Google is always surprising the SEO industry and its latest surprise has come in the form of BERT algorithm update. Google has recently announced this update and it is likely to impact 10% of all the searches.
There is nothing too technical about this update as it is a huge step forward in Google’s understanding of the intent of the search query. Google has always been at the forefront of Natural Language Processing and with this update, Google has become even better at understanding the nuances or context of the search query.
This update has received so much interest as Google quantifies it at the biggest leap forward in NLP in the past 5 years.
Google has identified it as an update that is designed to help it better understand search queries. Simply put, this algorithm will make Google better at identifying the context and certain nuances that will help it in ranking the most relevant stuff in its organic search results.
It is likely to have the most impact on the longtail searches as the context is much more important in longtail searches. Keep in mind that longtail searches account for more than 70% of the queries on search engines and with the increased use of voice for search, this percentage is likely to grow further.
In addition to 10% of all the searches, this update is also likely to affect the featured snippets across a variety of languages. Another important thing you need to know about this update is that it is not replacing any other element of the search algorithm and this update will be used in conjunction with existing elements of the search algorithm.
BERT Effect on SEO
When it comes to your SEO strategy because of this latest update, the consensus among experts is that you can’t really optimize for this update. This update is meant to make Google better at understanding the context of the queries which means if you already have content that is designed to answer specific questions asked by a searcher, you are good and are likely to benefit from this update.
It is going to hurt the rankings of content that is designed around a particular keyword or phrase and is not particularly designed to give the right answer to the searcher.
Since this update is meant for a better understanding of the user’s intent, it is most likely to have a huge impact on informational searches. In simple terms, it is likely to impact rankings for queries where the user is asking a question or a specific query. This is due to the reason that in most cases, these questions are ambiguous and not very clear as is the case with navigational searches or transactional searches. This brings Google one step closer to becoming an answer engine instead of remaining a search engine.
If you already have good content around a certain topic, you do not need to worry about this update as you already have everything needed to take advantage of this latest update. However, if you have designed your content around a particular keyword or a bunch of keywords, you need to start updating your content and prepare a content plan.
The first step in your SEO strategy should be to create content around a particular topic and not keywords. In fact, the popular keyword research methods are likely to be obsolete in the near future as Google and other search engines keep getting better at understanding the meaning or context of the content.
When you are creating content, make sure it covers a particular topic and it should also include answers for specific questions that are likely to be asked by your users. Make sure you give a specific answer to a specific question.
While long-form content has long been the favorite of content and search marketers, it is likely to lose its relative importance with this and other future updates. This doesn’t mean you need to give up on long-form content. The only thing you need to do is to slightly tweak your long-form content strategy to include specific answers to specific questions inside the long-form content pieces.
Overall, this update like all the past updates is a step in the direction of Google becoming an answer engine instead of remaining only a search engine. If you want to be prepared for this update and similar future updates, you just need to focus on creating content that serves your users instead of focusing only on search engine algorithms.